Besides biological factors that primarily drive risk-taking and law-breaking attitude among teenagers, culture too may play a key role in shaping criminal mindset among them, a study has showed.
“Whatever the biological, or neurobiological, factors that might contribute to criminal behaviour, culture and social structure apparently play as great, or greater role,” said Yunmei Lu, doctoral candidate at the Pennsylvania State University.
“It also suggests a greater amount of plasticity for humans, including during their adolescence,” Lu added.
The way societies eventually integrate youth into the world of adults also may play a large role in age-crime patterns, the researchers noted.
“Different societies may have differences in age-graded norms and integration of youth with adult society in ways that lead to differences in extent of adolescent crime and the age-crime association,” explained Hua Zhong, associate professor at the Chinese University of Hong Kong.
For the study, detailed in the journal Criminology, the team analysed age and patterns of teenage crime in the US and Taiwan in Asia. They found significant differences, which suggest that cultural factors may also be important influences on criminal behaviour.
In the US, which tends to be more individualistic, for example, involvement in crime tends to peak in middle to late teenage and then declines.
However, in Taiwan, which has more of a collectivist culture with less separation between generations, the crime rate does not dramatically peak as it does in the US.